SI.com 2003 College Football Preview




SI.com's College Football Team Previews - from Athlon Sports

  Iowa Hawkeyes

 
The Lowdown
Coach: Kirk Ferentz (5th year, 22-26)
2002 record: 11-2 (Lost to USC 38-17 in Orange Bowl)
Big Ten finish: T-1st
2002 offensive stats:
Rush: 214.2 ypg
(2nd in Big Ten, 17th in nation)
Pass: 210.3 ypg (7th, 63rd)
2002 defensive stats:
Rush: 81.9 ypg (2nd, 5th)
Pass: 273.4 ypg (11th, 110th)
Projected Starters
Offense (4 returning starters in bold)
SE   11   Ed Hinkel   So.  
WR  Maurice Brown  Sr. 
LT   78   Robert Gallery   Sr.  
LG  75  Kory Borchers  Sr. 
71  Eric Rothwell  Sr. 
RG  69  Pete McMahon  Jr. 
RT  77  Sam Aiello  Sr. 
TE  35  Erik Jensen  Sr. 
QB  10  Nathan Chandler  Sr. 
RB   2   Fred Russell   Sr.  
FB   40   Edgar Cervantes   Sr.  
Defense (7)
DE   48   Howard Hodges   Sr.  
DT   90   Jared Clauss   Sr.  
DT   45   Jonathan Babineaux   Jr.  
DE  31  Matt Roth  Jr. 
OLB   42   Grant Steen   Sr.  
MLB   53   Kevin Worthy   Sr.  
WLB  18  Chad Greenway  So. 
CB  26  Jovon Johnson  So. 
CB   20   Antwan Allen   So.  
SS   33   Bob Sanders   Sr.  
FS  37  Sean Considine  Jr. 
Special Teams
95  Nate Kaeding  Sr. 
28  David Bradley  Jr. 
KR  29  Jermelle Lewis  Jr. 
PR  11  Ed Hinkel  So. 
2003 Schedule
Aug. 30  Miami (OH) 
Sept. 6  Buffalo 
Sept. 13  at Iowa State 
Sept. 20  Arizona State 
Sept. 27  at Michigan State 
Oct. 4  Michigan 
Oct. 18  at Ohio State 
Oct. 25  Penn State 
Nov. 1  Illinois 
Nov. 8  at Purdue 
Nov. 15  Minnesota 
Nov. 22  at Wisconsin 
Kirk Ferentz rebuilt the Iowa football program in spectacular fashion. Now he moves on to the next challenge: trying to sustain it.

"To me, the philosophy really doesn't change," Ferentz said. "What you do shouldn't change, whether you're trying to climb the hill or sustain something. And really to me, you're always climbing. That's got to be your attitude. You're always trying to climb and prove."

After a slow start, Ferentz is climbing fast these days, as evidenced by the unprecedented success his team enjoyed last season. The same guy who lost 16 of his first 18 games at Iowa accomplished last season what former Hawkeye coaching greats Forest Evashevski and Hayden Fry never did -- win 11 games and finish undefeated (8-0) in the Big Ten.

Several seniors played starring roles in the miracle run last season, including quarterback Brad Banks, four starters on the offensive line and defensive standouts Colin Cole and Fred Barr. All-America junior tight end Dallas Clark also left early to enter the NFL Draft.

"What happened last year is great," Ferentz said. "But this is a totally new team. This is a totally new year. Hopefully, we can build on those successes, but we have a lot of steps to take before we can even think about that right now."

OFFENSIVE KEYS:

Senior quarterback Nathan Chandler is huge (6-foot-7, 250), but tiny compared with the shoes that Banks, the 2002 Heisman Trophy runner-up, left behind. The switch from Banks to Chandler will be a drastic change in terms of their playing styles. Banks was a threat to run or throw, whereas Chandler prefers to stay in the pocket.

Chandler appeared in just five games last season, completing 12-of-20 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown.

"He's not going to get to the corner as fast as Brad would get there," Ferentz said, "but when he's moving, he can really throw the football pretty well."

Four starters have to be replaced on the offensive line, but there still is plenty of star power, with senior running back Fred Russell and senior receiver Mo Brown leading the way. Russell rushed for 1,264 yards last season, while Brown had a team-high 48 catches for 966 yards and 11 touchdowns.

DEFENSIVE KEYS:

Seven starters, including three linemen, are back from a unit that was dominant at times last season. The Hawkeyes ranked second in the Big Ten in rushing defense and tied for second in the conference with 40 quarterback sacks.

Senior end Howard Hodges and senior strong safety Bob Sanders head the list of returning starters. They both made first-team All-Big Ten last season.

Senior Grant Steen returns as the starting outside linebacker for the third consecutive season. The former walk-on had three interceptions against Indiana last season, which tied an NCAA single-game record for linebackers.

Sophomore Antwan Allen also returns after starting all 13 games at cornerback. Fellow sophomore Jovon Johnson is expected to start at the other cornerback position. He finished tied for first on the team last season with four interceptions, despite playing a limited role as a reserve. Junior Sean Considine and senior Chris Smith were in a close battle at the end of spring practice to replace Derek Pagel as the starting free safety.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Kicker Nate Kaeding has made 47-of-59 field-goal attempts during his career, including 20-of-25 from beyond 40 yards. He converted 21-of-24 field goals last season and won the Lou Groza Award. He has accumulated 267 points and currently ranks third on Iowa's all-time scoring list. David Bradley returns as the starting punter for the third consecutive season.

Bradley punted 53 times for a 39.5-yard average last season. Besides starting at receiver, Hinkel also ranked third in the Big Ten last season in punt returns with a 12.0-yard average.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

With seven new starters on offense, it will be difficult for Iowa to match last year's success. The defense will have to be solid from the start, because the offense could suffer through growing pains with a new quarterback. It seems reasonable to think that Iowa could play in a bowl game for the third consecutive season. However, it probably won't be as prestigious as the Orange Bowl.

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